Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"aching beauty and indelible grace" Ann Hood's latest

this week I get the chance to talk with Ann Hood again - this time she's written a novel that was inspired by her own life and the adoption of her daughter Annabelle from China. It's called "The Red Thread" and Dennis LeHane called it "a work of aching beauty and indelible grace. A novel that elicts nothing less than wonder."

The title The Red Thread, is based on an ancient Chinese belief that connects children to all of the people that eventually play a part in their lives.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Some conversations you may have missed

Did you know you can listen online to author interviews from KAXE's Realgoodwords? Here's some of my favorites from recent shows!

MN author Joe Plut talks about "Conversations with Jon Hassler"

MN author Julie Kramer and "Silencing Sam"

MN author Gayla Marty and "Memory of Trees"

Heather Lende "Take Good Care of the Garden and Dogs: Family, Friends & Faith in Small Town Alaska"

Linda Greenlaw "Seaworthy: A Swordsboat Captain Returns to the Sea"

and, if you missed it, here's a conversation with award winning MN author Kate DiCamillo about "The Magician's Elephant"

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Also this week on Realgoodwords - more mystery from Julie Kramer

MN mystery author Julie Kramer is back with the third in her Riley Spartz series, "Silencing Sam". Riley is an investigative reporter in Minneapolis who finds herself embroiled with a local gossip columnist. It's a fun read and also an interesting commentary on the state of news and journalism today in a world of social media. Here's a synopsis from her website:


When a widely despised gossip columnist is shot to death, Riley Spartz must secretly investigate a case after she becomes the prime suspect. In the wake of the brutal murder, our heroine discovers that news and gossip have more in common than she ever imagined. Meanwhile, competition in the Channel 3 newsroom is just as murderous. While Riley struggles to interest her boss in a story about rural wind farm bombings, a new reporter spikes the station ratings with exclusive stories about the headless homicide of an unknown woman whose decapitated body is found in a city park. Riley must fight to stay out of jail, ahead in the ratings, and even alive in a killer showdown not fit for television audiences.

Check out her book trailer and tune in this week!

One of MN's Treasures: Jon Hassler

There are many reasons to be proud of the state of Minnesota. Let me count the ways...

Education. 66 State Parks. Loni Anderson. Spam. Butterheads at the MN State Fair. Cute accents. Bob Dylan. The MN Twins. Climate extremes that make Minnesotans a grateful bunch. And writers. It's a state chock full of writers.

In 2008 Minnesota lost one of it's most beloved voices, author Jon Hassler.

Jon was born in Minneapolis but grew up in Plainview and Staples, Minnesota. One of Hassler's colleagues at St. John's University, Nick Hayes said, "Minnesota has been lost between the sentimental images of Lake Wobegon and the cynical look of Sinclair Lewis's Gopher Prairie". Hayes is a professor of history and university chair of critical thinking. "Jon rescued small-town Minnesota. He saw it without sentimentality, but with a subtle eye that brought out the dignity, humanity and humor of its characters. I was always amazed by his ability to give such life to characters that you would think, at first glance, would be of no interest whatsoever. He saw the complexity of individuals.

When Jon Hassler taught in Brainerd, MN at the former Brainerd Community College (now Central Lakes College), he met a man that would be a lifelong friend. Joe Plut is my guest this week on Realgoodwords. We'll talk about the work he did with Jon - that has just been published by Nodin Press, "Conversations with Jon Hassler".

I grew up in a home where Jon Hassler's writing was revered. (thanks Mom!) I still haven't read all his work - one of my favorites is Grand Opening. I felt like, through Jon's writing, I learned more about my grandfather's growing up years in southern Minnesota. Thanks to Joe Plut's scrupulous reading of Jon Hassler's work, and his conversations about each of his novels, I was able to learn more about not only the story of Grand Opening, but how Hassler wrote it and how much it was based on his own life. Tune in this week for Joe Plut on Realgoodwords and his book "Conversations with Jon Hassler".

Richard Russo wrote of Jon Hassler in the New York Times Book Review, "Part of Jon Hassler's brilliance has always been his ability to achieve the depth of real literature through such sure-handed, no-gimmicks, honest language that the result appears effortless."

Do you have a favorite Hassler work? Why?

It's our summer fundraiser, and thanks to Joe Plut and Nodin Press, you can get a copy of "Conversations with Jon Hassler" when you pledge your support!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Adventure and Memory on Realgoodwords this week

Linda Greenlaw is one of my guests this week on Realgoodwords this week... she's the only female swordboat captain in America. You may know her from the movie The Perfect Storm or the book by Sebastian Junger... or maybe you've seen her discovery channel show Swords. I talked with her about her new memoir about getting back out on the water to captain a swordboat after 10 years. It's called "Seaworthy: A Swordfish Captain Returns to the Sea". Now I'm not usually the kind of gal who likes this kind of adventure writing - but I found this book to be fun and fascinating about this hardworking world of fishing I knew nothing about. Hope you get to hear the interview, I found my conversation with Linda delightful.

I also talked to Australian writer and speaker Michael McQueen about the book he's put together "Memento: My Life in Stories". After the surprise death of his father, McQueen realized how important stories are to us. He had given his father a notebook with questions and after he passed, they found it, filled out, in his desk. It has helped him deal with such a big loss in his life. Questions in the book include things like "What was your favorite childhood toy" and "What can you remember about your first kiss" and "What was your wedding like".....

We also get the chance to hear my conversation with Nick Hornby again this week - his latest novel is "Juliet, Naked".

If you missed the show, check here for Realgoodword archives.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Memoirs and poetry on Realgoodwords

This week I talk with the author of "Memory of Trees - A Daughter's Story of a Family Farm"- Gayla Marty. It was a great conversation - and I'm afraid I jumped all over the place because there were so many things I wanted to talk with her about. Hers is a memoir - her life growing up on the farm. She's created this in a really unique way. First, she starts the book from her point of view as a young girl - so the language and storytelling changes as she gets older. Also, she's using the idea of her favorite trees on her family farm in Rush City, MN to tell her story. For example:

At the cemetery east of town, a young maple tree grows by the Marty family plot. When I go with Gramma Marty to take care of our plot, she tells me to water the tree too. It's bark is smooth gray and its leaves are yellow-green, like hands with three points, bigger than the pages of the book I use for pressing leaves. Its seeds are attached to a wing like a dragonfly's. There are millions of seeds every spring.
page 39 "Memory of Trees" published by University of MN Press

I also talk with Elise Paschen this week about "Poetry Speaks: Who I Am" - a new anthology of written and spoken word poetry for middle to high school age kids. It includes poetry from people like Sherman Alexie, Billy Collins, Joy Harjo, Julia Alvarez and many, many more. One of the poems included is "Mowing" by Midge Goldberg.

You know those chores you always have to do,
like mowing grass: I grumble, go outside—
a lawn this size will take an hour or two
at least—put on my Red Sox hat and ride
around designing circles, lines, a border.
I move from shade to sunshine, deftly steering,
looking purposeful and bringing order
so neat and sure—and sure of disappearing.
With all this sun, I know that what I’m doing
won’t last, won’t keep a week; I ride about
to find the pleasure in the not pursuing,
to learn beyond the shadow of a doubt
the patterns that I long to bring to pass
get mown and overgrown like summer grass.